In a 3-2 decision, the Fullerton City Council voted to repeal the citywide ordinance that allowed for the commercial regulation of cannabis, which has only been active for nearly three months.
The regulation of commercial cannabis would not only increase sales revenue for the city, but also enable the consumption of cannabis to be monitored better in a way that is safe and legal, said Councilmember Ahmad Zahra.
Over a dozen public speakers, most of whom were long-time Fullerton residents, attended the meeting to urge the council to repeal the ordinance. Most speakers mentioned the illegal dispensaries’ influence on underaged children as points of concern.
Others spoke out against the cannabis industry as a whole, and stressed the importance of keeping cannabis out of their city while they acknowledged that those who need it for medical reasons can easily retrieve the product from surrounding cities.
“We’re not taking away from anything, from people that have it. We're just not going to keep it in our community,” a Fullerton resident said. “Fullerton’s a very unique city and I’d like to keep it that way.”
Mayor Pro Tem Nick Dunlap said that Fullerton’s previous council left the current council with an inadequate plan to effectively regulate commercial cannabis while also addressing their constituents’ concerns.
Dunlap said that the council has been debating this topic since 2016, and implied that they could have been addressing other, and more dire, issues such as repairing the roads.
“How do you think our roads would look if we had invested the same amount of time and resources over the past 4 1/2 years that was invested into this initiative, into fixing our roads and streets?” Dunlap said. “I guarantee you our roads would be in better condition today than they are had we invested the same amount of time.”
Council member Fred Jung shared Dunlap’s views on refocusing the council’s energy into other areas of concern that will move the city forward. Moreover, Jung said that the ordinance is flawed because it does not address a residential buffer or retail.
“We will be burdened by this as the council has for the last two months and these clear and present dangers that we must address to move our city forward can not be because all we do is seemingly speak about cannabis,” Jung said. “That being said, whether you agree with legalization or not, this ordinance as far as I’m concerned, is flawed.”
Zahra offered a different perspective on the ordinance and said that this is a matter of public safety. He added that the additional revenue Fullerton would receive from the state for regulating commercial cannabis will act to counter the illegal dispensaries.
He said that the ordinance as it was, was amended constantly to reflect the concerns of Fullerton residents.
“The idea that we could control this industry rather than it controlling us is really the main purpose of this ordinance because this is an industry that is growing, it is here,” Zahra said. “This is not about bringing cannabis into this city, this is about trying to regulate it.”